June 2012

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A new approach to treating cystic fibrosis

Cystic fibrosis is no longer the immediate death sentence it once was. In the years since it was first discovered, the average life span for patients has gone from five to 38 years. But little progress has been made in correcting the root cause of the disease.

Scripps Research Institute Professor William Balch sees hope in a new paradigm emerging in how the disease is understood. Working in partnership with a company he co-founded, his lab is developing novel therapeutics that could bring a breakthrough in treatment.

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Milestones in Medical Science:

Description: Jun-Li luoAssociate Professor
Jun-Li Luo

Scientists uncover 'car-ignition' of breast cancer

Scientists have long known that inflammation is a critical underlying factor in a number of diseases, but for the first time one of our studies has uncovered inflammation's role in the process that turns normal cells into tumor cells.

Scripps Florida's Dr. Jun-Li Luo uncovered a self-sustaining signaling circuit that inhibits a well-known tumor suppressor, which he likens to a car engine: while a battery is needed to start the engine, once the car is running, the battery is no longer needed. Similarly, consistent signaling maintains continuous growth of tumor cells – offering a new concept for cancer therapies that could disable this circuit.

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Human evolution offers clues to neurological disorders

Scientists have long puzzled over what caused humans to advance so dramatically beyond our ape ancestors. Our brains – capable of language, science and art – are the most distinguishing feature, and new research suggests a genetic copying error in brain cells may have been what caused humans to break away.

Scripps Research Professor Franck Polleux searched the human genome for these duplications and found that many appear to play a role in the development of the brain. His research now sheds new light on the origins of the human brain, and could offer clues about neurological brain disorders like autism, epilepsy and schizophrenia.

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Facts & Figures

The cystic fibrosis regulator (dF508-CFTR) studied by Dr. William Balch affects more than 90% of patients in the cystic fibrosis registry.

A powerful combination

The Scripps Research Institute is home to a powerful combination: world-class scientists, cutting-edge technology and intellectual freedom, all aimed at one thing: finding tomorrow’s cures. Your support keeps our research efforts going strong.

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Scripps Research hosts aspiring scientists

Nearly 200 high school students from across the country recently spent a day at The Scripps Research Institute as part of a national presentation of SMART Team (Students Modeling A Research Topic) projects.

The budding scientists helped design and construct physical models of proteins being investigated in Scripps Research scientists' labs. They later displayed their posters at the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (ASBMB) annual meeting in San Diego – the fifth time SMART Teams have participated in the meeting.

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